PHILADELPHIA – One day after seeing North Dakota incoming freshman forward Nick Schmaltz selected 20th overall in the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, nine more future National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) student-athletes heard their names called Saturday on day two of the NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Eight of the 10 incoming NCHC players chosen will suit up for their team this fall, while two are slated to make their NCHC debuts in 2015-16.
Six of the eight teams in the NCHC had at least one incoming player drafted on Saturday, led by Omaha, which had three future players taken on day two. North Dakota also had three players drafted overall, including Schmaltz, while Colorado College, Denver, Miami and Western Michigan each had one incoming player selected Saturday. The Chicago Blackhawks took three of the incoming NCHC players, including Schmaltz, while the Washington Capitals selected two future NCHC student-athletes.
The first future NCHC player taken off the board Saturday was Miami incoming freshman Louie Belpedio (Skokie, Ill.), who was selected 80th overall in the third round by the Minnesota Wild. The 5-foot-10 defenseman is the 58th player in Miami history to be drafted in the NHL and will be one of seven draft picks on the RedHawks’ roster in 2014-15. In his final year with the U.S. National Team Development Program, Belpedio tallied 21 points on seven goals and 14 assists in 54 games. He served as captain of Team USA at the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) U-18 World Championship in Finland, helping guide the team to a gold medal with two assists in seven games. Earlier this month, Belpedio was invited to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, where he will audition for a spot on Team USA for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, along with Schmaltz and two other current NCHC players.
Only three picks later, incoming Western Michigan freshman Matheson Iacopelli (Brownstown, Mich.) went 83rd overall in the third round to the Blackhawks. The 6-foot-3 forward is the 55th Bronco to be drafted in the NHL in program history. Iacopelli led the United States Hockey League (USHL) in goal scoring in 2013-14 with 41 goals in 58 games. He also added 22 assists for 63 points this past season, which ranked seventh in the league.
In the fourth round, North Dakota incoming freshman Austin Poganski (St. Cloud, Minn.) was drafted 110th overall by the St. Louis Blues becoming the second UND newcomer taken in the 2014 Draft. The 6-foot-1 forward was the 161st UND player selected in the NHL Draft in program history and will be one of 14 NHL draft picks on its 2014-15 roster. Poganski appeared in 55 games with Tri-City of the USHL in 2013-14, collecting 19 goals and 12 assists. He ranked second on the squad in goals while his 11 power-play goals ranked fourth in the USHL. In 2012-13, Poganski was named the St. Cloud Times All-Area Boys Hockey Player of the Year after racking up 35 goals and 31 assists in 23 games for St. Cloud Cathedral High School. He finished his prep career with 156 points in three years. Poganski also boasts a wealth of international hockey experience, having helped lead the United States to a silver medal at the 2013 World U-17 Hockey Challenge, where he scored seven goals in 11 games.
In addition to Poganski and Schmaltz, Shane Gersich (Chaska, Minn.), who will join North Dakota in 2015-16, was selected 134th overall in the fifth round by Washington. The 5-foot-11 forward played with the U.S. National Team Development Program in 2013-14 totaling 32 points on 16 goals and assists each in 61 games played against USHL, NCAA and international competition. Gersich also played with Belpedio in helping the U.S. win gold at the 2014 IIHF U-18 World Championship.
Also selected in the fourth round was Denver incoming freshman Danton Heinen (Langley, B.C.), who went 116th overall to the Boston Bruins. The 6-foot forward was named Rookie of the Year in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) this past season when he tallied 61 points, including 29 goals, in 57 games for the Surrey Eagles. Heinen will be the seventh NHL draft pick on the Pioneers’ 2014-15 roster and is the 36th Denver player selected in the NHL Draft since 2002.
Two picks after Gersich, Colorado College incoming freshman Chase Perry (Andover, Minn.) was taken 136th overall in the fifth round by the Detroit Red Wings. The 6-foot-3 goaltender is the 81st Tiger drafted in the NHL in program history and will be one of six drafted Tigers on their 2014-15 roster. Perry posted a 1.83 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in 10 playoff games for the North American Hockey League (NAHL) semifinalist Wenatchee Wild last season. He posted a 2.34 GAA in 35 regular-season games in the NAHL last season, as well.
The final three future NCHC players drafted are all headed to Omaha, with all three being selected in a span of 19 picks. Luc Snuggerud went 141st overall in the fifth round to Chicago, while Tyler Vesel went in the sixth round at pick 153 to the Edmonton Oilers. Steven Spinner, who will join the Mavericks in 2015-16, capped the run of Omaha players, going 159th overall in the sixth round to the Capitals. The Mavs will have eight players on their 2014-15 roster who are NHL draft picks.
Snuggerud (Eden Prairie, Minn.) won the 2014 Reed Larson Award as the top high school defenseman in Minnesota after scoring nine goals and adding 39 assists for 48 points in 31 games for Eden Prairie High School. The 6-foot defenseman helped the Eagles to their first state tournament since 2011, was a team captain and as a senior was all-conference, all-metro and all-state. Vesel (Rochester, Minn.) was a member of the All-USHL Second Team in 2013-14 after finishing second for the Omaha Lancers and third in the USHL in scoring with 33 goals and 38 assists for 71 points in just 49 games. Prior to playing in the USHL, the 5-foot-11 forward played for Shattuck St. Mary’s where he put up 61 goals and 90 assists for 151 points in 112 career games and won a national championship as a junior. Spinner (Eden Prairie, Minn.), who played with Snuggerud at Eden Prairie High School, led EPHS in scoring last season with 23 goals and 27 assists for 50 points in 31 games. The 5-foot-11 forward also combined to play 11 games in the USHL with Muskegon and Omaha, totaling two goals and three assists for five points.
The 10 future NCHC players drafted marked the fourth-most of any NCAA conference, behind Hockey East (21), the Big Ten (13) and ECAC Hockey (13). In all, a total of 62 players with NCAA ties were taken in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Incoming NCHC Players Selected in 2014 NHL Draft
Rd. Overall Player NHL Team NCHC Team
1 20 Nick Schmaltz Chicago North Dakota
3 80 Louie Belpedio Minnesota Miami
3 83 Matheson Iacopelli Chicago Western Michigan
4 110 Austin Poganski St. Louis North Dakota
4 116 Danton Heinen Boston Denver
5 134 Shane Gersich Washington North Dakota (’15)
5 136 Chase Perry Detroit Colorado College
5 141 Luc Snuggerud Chicago Omaha
6 153 Tyler Vesel Edmonton Omaha
6 159 Steven Spinner Washington Omaha (’15)